Big pharma schedule 3
Big pharma schedule 3

Pharmaceutical Companies Win Big with Schedule 3 Classification of Cannabis - Desheduling is the Only Way for True Equity

Did Big Pharma get their secret with with Schedule 3 for marijuana?

Posted by:
Reginald Reefer on Saturday May 11, 2024

big pharma schedule 3

Pharma wins in Schedule III – De-scheduling is the only way for true Equity!

The Biden Administration has been loudly touting diversity, equity and inclusion as top priorities since taking office, particularly when it comes to cannabis policy reform. However, their recent proposal to reschedule cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule III controlled substance reveals that promoting true equity is far from their primary concern.

For decades, Joe Biden has been cozy with Big Pharma, accepting millions in campaign contributions from drug companies over his long political career. It's no secret that the pharmaceutical industry vehemently opposes cannabis legalization, as legal weed represents a major threat to their profits from opiate painkillers and other drugs. Pharma much prefers that cannabis remain illegal, or barring that, placed into a restrictive category like Schedule III that they can control and corner the market on.

Rescheduling cannabis to Schedule III would allow the drug to be legally prescribed, but with strict controls and oversight from the FDA. This plays right into the hands of major drug companies, who have the resources to navigate the complicated federal approval process and bring cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals to market. Smaller entrepreneurs, especially minorities who have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs, would be largely shut out from participating in the industry.

If the Biden administration truly cared about diversity, equity and inclusion in cannabis, they would push to completely deschedule the plant, rather than shifting it to Schedule III. Descheduling would open up opportunities for a much wider range of individuals and small businesses to enter the legal industry. It would begin to repair the harms of the drug war and create more equitable access.

But Biden has never been a real ally to cannabis reform or racial justice. His proposed rescheduling is a pharma market grab disguised as incremental progress. Allowing a corporate oligopoly to further enrich itself will do nothing to help the marginalized communities who have suffered the most under prohibition. Only full descheduling can pave the way for true equity in the cannabis space. The administration's "diversity and inclusion" rhetoric around this issue rings completely hollow.

How Schedule III fails minorities

Rescheduling cannabis to Schedule III would place it under the strict purview of the FDA, subjecting the industry to onerous regulations and compliance burdens that disadvantage minority small business owners. The costs of operating a Schedule III business are prohibitively high for most entrepreneurs. Companies must navigate an arduous FDA approval process for each cannabis-derived product, which can take years and cost millions of dollars in research and legal fees.

According to a 2017 survey, only 4% of cannabis businesses are owned by African Americans, and less than 2% by Latinos. These numbers are unlikely to improve under a Schedule III system that favors deep-pocketed corporations. Existing minority-owned cannabis businesses, already facing capital access challenges, would struggle immensely to shoulder the regulatory costs of FDA compliance, likely driving many out of business entirely.

Businesses would have to implement robust quality control systems, conduct expensive clinical trials, and maintain meticulous production records to meet FDA standards. The agency's Good Manufacturing Practices are notoriously difficult to comply with, requiring significant investments in specialized facilities and equipment. Companies would also face extensive labeling and marketing restrictions, with the FDA tightly controlling allowable claims and product information.

While Schedule III substances can be legally prescribed and sold, they are still considered illegal outside of FDA-approved channels. Cannabis would remain a federally illegal substance, with businesses still facing the threat of raids and asset forfeiture. This "Regulatory Prohibition" would likely be weaponized against minority operators, as the drug war has been for decades. Those without the means to fight regulators could find themselves criminalized under the new system.

The pharmaceutical industry, through lobbying and campaign contributions, would inevitably seek to shape the FDA's cannabis regulations in their favor. This could lead to policies like dosage limits and bans on whole-plant products that benefit patented drugs while hindering small producers. Pharma's influence would further tilt the playing field against minority owners.

For minority entrepreneurs, the costs of entry and compliance under Schedule III would be backbreaking. Without serious equity initiatives to provide resources and technical assistance, a Schedule III industry would be dominated by Big Pharma and exclude people of color, doing little to repair the injustices of the drug war.

Why Descheduling is the only way forward

As we debate the future of cannabis policy in America, we must first ask ourselves: why are we even considering legalization in the first place? The answer is clear - it is the will of the people. For over a decade, a steadily growing majority of U.S. citizens have believed that cannabis should be legal. A recent poll found that a staggering 91% of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana, and 7 out of 10 are in favor of recreational legalization as well. The public has spoken, and they have resoundingly rejected the failed policies of prohibition.

So why, then, are we wasting time debating incremental "rescheduling" measures like moving cannabis to Schedule III? The only rational discussion to be having at this point is how to deschedule marijuana entirely and implement full legalization nationwide. Anything less is a slap in the face to the supermajority of Americans who want the freedom to consume cannabis without fear of arrest or stigma.

Activists like RAW Josh on X (formerly Twitter) are absolutely right to be outraged at the suggestion of Schedule III as some kind of victory.

It is not a win for the cannabis community, who have fought for decades to end prohibition entirely. It is not a win for those who have had their lives ruined by the cruel excesses of the Drug War, disproportionately people of color. It is not a win for medical patients, who would still face significant federal restrictions on their medicine. And it is certainly not a win for entrepreneurs and small businesses, who would be steamrolled by the pharmaceutical industry under a Schedule III paradigm.

What Schedule III represents is the iron grip of corporate pharma influence on our political system. It is a calculated maneuver to co-opt the legalization movement and steer the industry into the waiting hands of a few powerful drug companies. Roughly half of the funding of the FDA comes from Pharmaceutical companies through a scheme called “User Fees”.  Since Pharma loses roughly $10 billion annually in a region where Medical Cannabis is legal…what do you think happens to these “fees” that the FDA receive.

By maintaining strict federal control over cannabis, the government can pick and choose winners in the market, and rest assured those winners will not be mom-and-pop pot shops or minority-owned startups. They will be the multinational corporations with the lobbying power to write the regulations in their favor.

We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot allow the will of the people to be subverted by special interests yet again. The cannabis community must stand firm and demand nothing less than full descheduling and an end to federal prohibition once and for all. We must reject half-measures like Schedule III that are designed to fail us while enriching a corrupt pharmaceutical industry.

If that means we have to completely overhaul the DEA, or dismantle the incentive structures that allow corporations to buy off politicians, so be it. The war on drugs has been one of the most destructive and wasteful policy failures in American history, and it will not end until we take bold, uncompromising action. The people are ready for change, and we will continue to fight for it, against all odds and all opposition, until our work is finished. Descheduling is the path to justice, to equity, to individual liberty. We cannot settle for anything less.

The Sticky Bottom Line

When it comes to cannabis policy, the sticky bottom line is this: Schedule III is not what activists and advocates have been fighting for all these years. It is a far cry from the full legalization and normalization we seek. As citizens, it is imperative that we make our voices heard on this issue, not just in who we elect as president, but perhaps more importantly, in who we choose to represent us in Congress.

The unfortunate reality is that many of our current elected officials are political dinosaurs, beholden to special interests like Big Pharma who line their campaign coffers with cash. They are out of touch with the will of the people and more concerned with serving their corporate masters than doing what's right. It is time we vote these compromised individuals out of office and replace them with representatives who will stand up to the pharmaceutical lobby and fight for true cannabis freedom.

What we demand is nothing less than complete descheduling of this miraculous plant. Because that's what cannabis is at the end of the day - a plant. It is a seed that we can sow into the earth, a gift from nature that grows abundantly without human intervention. For centuries, humans have cultivated cannabis for food, fiber, medicine and spiritual purposes. Who are we to criminalize a plant that has served us so well?

The right to grow our own sustenance and healing herbs is fundamental to our autonomy as free people. Without that right, can we truly call ourselves free? Or are we merely slaves, dependent on the permission of corporations and governments to access the necessities of life? That is the question each of us must ask ourselves as we contemplate the future of cannabis in America.

In the end, the sticky bottom line is a matter of principle. Will we stand up for what we believe in, even in the face of powerful opposition? Will we fight for our sovereignty and self-determination, no matter how long it takes? Or will we compromise our values for the sake of political expediency and allow ourselves to be subjugated by those who seek to control us? The choice is ours to make, and the consequences will be ours to bear. Let us choose wisely, and let us never give up until the battle is won.





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